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Florida Counties, Including Seminole, Remind Residents to Only Call 911 In An Emergency As COVID Surges

Photo: Joshua Coleman
Photo: Joshua Coleman

The Seminole County Fire Department is pleading with residents to only call 911 if it’s an emergency as COVID-19 cases continue to surge in the area. Brevard County made a similar request last week.

Seminole County Fire Chief Otto Drozd says it’s not uncommon for ambulances to wait between 45 minutes to two hours outside of hospitals due to limited bed space. 

Drozd says that means residents should only call 911 if it’s an emergency, freeing up trucks for patients with serious COVID symptoms or undergoing cardiac arrest or stroke. 

“You know we looked at a day when we had lower unit availability and response time into a particular area increased by over two minutes. In our business, we say time is tissue and cardiac arrest for each minute your chances of survival go down exponentially.”

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Drozd says people with only minor COVID-19 symptoms should either see their primary care physician or drive to an urgent care instead of relying on their services. 

“So really what this is impacting is our ability to get to emergency calls in a timely manner. We want to be there when one of our community’s family members are having that cardiac arrest. Or they’re involved in a traumatic call. When they have a fire within their home and we want to be able to mitigate it.”

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Some 16,832 Floridians are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 according to the latest figures from the Department of Health and Human Services.

Danielle Prieur is WMFE's education reporter.